Coal mines ignite in Asturias (with updates)

Coal mines ignite in Asturias (with updates)

Coal miners in the historically militant Asturias region of Spain have been fighting a bitter struggle for survival. Please see the comments below for frequent updates.

Around 8,000 miners have been involved in ongoing strikes and militant protests after the government announced cuts to subsidies for the region's coal mines.

There are around 40 mines in the country, mainly in the north, where they offer vital jobs in an increasingly depressed economy. The end of the subsidy will effectively mean the end of those jobs, as Spanish coal prices will increase beyond those of imported alternatives. The strikers view winning the strike as essential to their livelihoods. It is increasingly becoming a set-piece battle as the government deepens its austerity program.

Consequently, they have utilised various forms of direct action to maximise the impact of the strike.

During the week, miners set up 16 roadblocks, severely affecting traffic in the region. One burning tire block caused a five-mile jam for over two hours. They also blocked access to the main port of Gijon, closed access to a major road tunnel after "persons unknown" sabotaged the CCTV, and protested outside a major power station. Attempts to break the roadblocks to transport people and goods in and out of the mines led to running battles with police. The strikers used rocks, concrete blocks, and home-made rocket launchers.

On Friday miners blocked several roads and two railway lines. A mineshaft is occupied, and strikers have camped out in the main square of the regional capital, Oviedo.

Posted By

Django
Jun 10 2012 09:20

Share


  • The strikers view winning the strike as essential to their livelihoods. It is increasingly becoming a set-piece battle as the government deepens its austerity program.

Attached files

Comments

fingers malone
Jul 6 2012 14:49

Jesus. Police are dropping tear gas out of helicopters at Pozo Santiago.

fingers malone
Jul 6 2012 17:59

Ok, analysis.
The miners ultimately can't win a military battle with the riot police. "The struggle needs to spread" is the classic response. So, can we look at the struggle spreading and not spreading. Is the march to Madrid a good way to link up with other people in struggle? 15-M Madrid are apparently planning joint actions with the miners.
Is it possible for the struggle to spread outside of the mining provinces, where there is mass popular support? Do other workers feel a real connection to the miners and their struggle?
In what ways is the struggle spreading and what is stopping it spreading?

Alvaro
Jul 6 2012 19:48

I feel that the refusal of Madrid´s authorities to provide them a place to sleep during their march should be an mind-opener to all that working class that actually voted for this right wing party. The same authorities that provided to the Pope & his thousands of sheeps roof, bed, food, almost free mass transit.

Harrison
Jul 6 2012 21:30
fingers malone wrote:
"The pickets are holed up in the mountains and resisting."

cool

Harrison
Jul 6 2012 21:45

what support are anarcho-syndicalists looking to provide? is there another 'toward a general strike' campaign they could lead and try and get local ugt and ccoo sections to follow? i'd hope that anarcho-syndicalists are strong enough over there to push for political strikes

Mark.
Jul 7 2012 11:06

@Harrison - From the links below it looks like there are two rival coordinating groups, an anarcho-syndicalist orientated one and a more base union/leftist one (I'm not sure if this is national or just for Madrid). Some of the Madrid CNT sections are listed as being involved in the Bloque Unitario. Others aren't, which I suspect reflects divided opinion in the Madrid CNT. I don't really know any more than this.

bloqueunitario.org

plataformahayquepararleslospies

fingers malone
Jul 7 2012 11:20

I've started translating some statements but I have to go out now.

grupo_ruptura
Jul 7 2012 12:37

Hi,

the first poster (from Bloque Unitario = Unitary Block, I think) says: "Welcome those who fight towards general strik" I think it is composed from people form the more workerist assemblies and work-groups of the 15-M, CGT, and CNT-Villaverde (a neighbourhood in the south of Madrid), there are some so-called worker's assemblies of the neighbourhoods (actually, they are mainly formed by extra-parlamentary leftists and maybe some anarcho-syndicalists).

The platform "Hay que pararles los pies" (More or less, "They have to be stopped") exists even before the 15-M and is composed by tiny leftist trade unions and leninist parties. Their poster says "The worker Madrid supports the miners"

I have seen in FB that people from the "Marea Verde" (green tide), which groups teachers, students and fathers, are going to join the miners demo.

The Metal section of CNT calls to support the miners demo, too:

http://madrid.cnt.es/noticia/el-sindicato-metal-mineria-quimica-cnt-madrid-llama-secundar-protesta-mineros-11-7-12

The 15-M movements has its own groups that support the miners demo.

Maybe later I will write something about the questions posed by Fingers Malone....

Mark.
Jul 7 2012 18:42
Mark.
Jul 8 2012 00:29
Quote:

The less we work, the more we do (event on Steelworkers' and miners' strikes in Greece and Spain)

An evening of debate on new activist movements, traditional workers organizations, creation of jobs and the end of unlimited exploitation of resources. Case study: Steelworkers and miners strikes in Greece and Spain.

https://www.facebook.com/events/175699419228762/

Where: Vondelbunker, Amsterdam


When: 14th of July, Saturday, from 18'00 to 21'00

In October 2011, Greek Steelworks SA cut down workers' salaries by 40%, reduced working hours to 5 hours a day, and dismissed many of their employees. 400 workers responded by holding a strike, demanding a reversal of the lay offs, and restoration of their full salaries.

A few months later, Spanish miners undertook an indefinite strike in answer to the 63% budget cuts in subsidies to the mining sector. The cuts will effectively terminate the coal mining industry in Spain, putting between 8.000 and 12.000 jobs at risk, and paralysing the local economy in the mining regions.

The mountains and villages of these regions have since been turned into a battlefield between citizens and police. Miners are walking a “Black March” to Madrid, where they will arrive on the 11th of July, and stay until a solution is found to their plight.

The 15M movement has shown full support for the miners' struggle, acknowledging it as the voice of a united working class at the heart of industrial production, standing up against the aggressive neoliberal austerity measures implemented by a corporate and political elite. There is, however, an urgent need to reflect on the precarious position of these workers in relation to the future of the coal mining industry in Spain, that takes into account the fundamental dilemmas between growth and de-growth policies, i.e. between the necessity to create jobs, sustainability and the protection of the environment.

Take the Square-Zuid Holland and REinFORM invites activists, occupiers, unionists, workers and everyone interested to join us in support of the “Black Marches”. In the event “The less I work, the more I do”, we will share information about the recent miners' protests, reflect on the relation between labour and the exploitation of natural resources, and discuss how a common front may be realised between traditional workers' organisations and the new activist movements.

https://www.indymedia.nl/node/5938

-----

Las luchas mineras: ¿retrogradas o revolucionarias?
(alasbarricadas thread)

ElArtilleru wrote:

Hola a todos, gracias por la conversación; me ha parecido muy interesante, teniendo en cuenta que a los interlocutores no les queda cerca el conflicto. En cuanto a si las luchas son retrogradas o revolucionarias no sabría deciros, aunque a mi si me cae muy de cerca, llevo 11 años trabajando en minas y si me las cierran tendría que emigrar.

Lo que si puedo deciros es que los que podáis acercaros el miércoles 11 de julio a Madrid a apoyar la marcha minera no lo dudéis, somos muy pocos. Necesitamos que toda la peña que tenga ganas de plantarle cara a esta basura de gobierno lo haga. No lo dudéis...

Gracias y salud!

-----

Fifty years ago...

Spanish coal miners challenge Franco dictatorship, 1962
Guy Debord: The Asturian strike
Miners strikes in Asturias

Caiman del Barrio
Jul 7 2012 23:10
fingers malone wrote:
Ok, analysis.
The miners ultimately can't win a military battle with the riot police. "The struggle needs to spread" is the classic response. So, can we look at the struggle spreading and not spreading. Is the march to Madrid a good way to link up with other people in struggle? 15-M Madrid are apparently planning joint actions with the miners.
Is it possible for the struggle to spread outside of the mining provinces, where there is mass popular support? Do other workers feel a real connection to the miners and their struggle?
In what ways is the struggle spreading and what is stopping it spreading?

Didn't they already go to Madrid last month though? although there is a long tradition of these caravanas in Spain/Latin America and it seems like it's getting a big reception in many places.

Have they been visiting other major workplaces, either in small groups or en masse? There were reports of solidarity strikes on some shipyards, any details on that?

I think we could also do with analysing the role of the mainstream unions and PSOE in this. Looking forward to reading Ruptura's article. I've heard similar whispers of strange manipulations from CNT comrades too.

Mark.
Jul 8 2012 00:03

According to the Guardian a couple of weeks ago (though I've no idea how representative of CC.OO/UGT views this is):

Quote:

Protesters have used rockets, stones, nuts and bolts in their running battles with police. Up to 60 roads have been blocked in a single day, as well as local train lines.
[…]
Trade unions have denounced the violence. "We are not responsible for these sort of actions, which are the exception and should not be repeated," said the local branch of the Workers Commissions.

fingers malone
Jul 8 2012 12:19
Caiman del Barrio wrote:
Have they been visiting other major workplaces, either in small groups or en masse? There were reports of solidarity strikes on some shipyards, any details on that?

Can't find anything on the shipyards, the transport strike got called off after five days, with an agreement of a 1.1% pay rise over three years. sad The occupation of the Thyssen factory got settled, don't know on what terms.

They did go to Madrid a month ago but I think this march is much more of a big deal, as they are walking all the way so they are passing through the towns and villages en route. I read that some factories have stopped work when they arrive as the workers go out to cheer the miners.

Visiting other workplaces, I just don't know. Probably. Anyone know?

fingers malone
Jul 8 2012 13:09

The "Marea Verde" some education struggle against cuts thing I think, has said that they are going to meet up with the miners when they get to Madrid.

fingers malone
Jul 8 2012 20:44

Police kicking down doors and invading houses with guns in Cinera.

Mark.
Jul 8 2012 21:54

fingers malone
Jul 8 2012 22:47

Blimey, UHP!
That's a slogan from round about the start of the civil war. Haven't seen that one in use for a while.
"Unidad Hermanos Proletarios"-
Unite Proletarian Brothers"

fingers malone
Jul 8 2012 22:54

No rockets but this is really nice.
"Esta pueblo si nos quiere" (This village really loves us)
The "Aragon column" get a heroes welcome as they reach Alcala.

Mark.
Jul 8 2012 22:52

fingers malone
Jul 8 2012 22:59

miner from the Aragon column:

"We are really emotional with all the support we have received. We didn't expect this so far from the coalfields. Thanks Acala, thanks Madrid, thanks Collado Villalba with the northern column... Thanks to all the good people! TOGETHER WE ARE GOING TO WIN."

Mark.
Jul 9 2012 23:33

Mark.
Jul 9 2012 23:53

Documentary on police brutality

Mark.
Jul 10 2012 00:05

El País: Miners’ black march arrives at gates of Madrid

Quote:

On Monday the so-called “black march” of miners descended on the outskirts of the capital after a grueling advance of some 430 kilometers, often in searing heat. The northern column, which set out from Asturias, Palencia and León over two weeks ago, reached the suburb of Aravaca on Monday afternoon, where they were greeted by applause and cheers of support from residents.

“Long live the working class struggle,” cried one elderly local. “We’re going to bring Madrid to a standstill,” replied a euphoric miner, moved by the reception the protestors have received. Earlier in the day, while marching through Villalba, some 3,000 people poured onto the streets to greet the column.

The Aragon column, which started out from Zaragoza and Teruel, reached the satellite town of Alcobendas north of Madrid, where it was joined by labor union representatives for a rally in the main square before retiring to a nearby municipal sports center to patch up their weary bodies and rest.

Both columns are due to march in Madrid on Tuesday night in full mining gear, with their helmet lights and lamps ablaze, to protest proposed cuts to mining subsidies of 63 percent, which would effectively kill the sector in Spain. On Wednesday a march is planned from the Colón square to the Industry Ministry. Organizers hope some 25,000 people will turn out.

Mark.
Jul 10 2012 10:52
Caiman del Barrio wrote:

I think we could also do with analysing the role of the mainstream unions and PSOE in this. Looking forward to reading Ruptura's article. I've heard similar whispers of strange manipulations from CNT comrades too.

Here's an article that's critical of the role of the unions and the organisation of the march:

La mafia del carbón

Mark.
Jul 10 2012 20:22
Mark.
Jul 10 2012 22:32

Noche Minera in Madrid - 150,000 on the streets according to twitter

fingers malone
Jul 11 2012 07:23

please fix this, it's a great photo of gran via full of people
[edit] thanks.

fingers malone
Jul 11 2012 07:50

They are singing the miners song and chanting "long live the struggle of the working class" or maybe it's more like "the struggle of the working class lives" as in "isn't history"

Auto
Jul 11 2012 08:33

The Black March is amazing.

The Guardian has a video report up on the miners. I did notice that at least one of the people on the motorway blockades was wearing a red & black sticker/badge.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/video/2012/jul/11/spanish-coal-miners-video